Wedding Photography photo
This wedding I shot served ribs as the meal and that made it one of my favorite weddings of the season. Stan Horaczek

Believe it or not, there’s a lot of bad advice out there on the internet. Looking for good advice on the web is like walking through a gymnasium full of your quirky uncles, all of whom have been given a bullhorn to shout their nonsensical advice at you before settling in to enjoy their sense of smug satisfaction. The wacky advice I would like to address today comes from a blogger named Sandy Malone (which is a totally awesome name) who claims that couples shouldn’t provide food for the photographers that they have hired to capture their wedding. That’s pretty crummy.

I understand her motivation. As a wedding planner, her job is to provide the best possible wedding experience within a budget, and once you start slinging steak and lobster to your guests, it can be pricy to include the hired help. But, when we’re shooting, we’re working as hard as possible for our clients and the long day can be a serious grind.

Let’s break down her argument.

“the first place to check is the contract with each of your vendors. If you’re required to feed them, it will be stated in the contract.” This is absolutely true and the reason I have a vendor meal for myself and my assistant in my contract.

“Your wedding planning team, for example, will probably be on deck from the crack of dawn until your reception is over. You’ll be required to feed them.” OK, so she and her staff should get some food. Got it.

“A photographer, for example, should be taking pictures through the wedding dinner (with some breaks to let people unselfconsciously feed themselves without a camera in their faces).” Here’s where we go off the rails.

Most wedding photographers show up well before the wedding begins. I’ve met most of my clients at their hair appointments and stayed around for the rest of the day. So, that’s about the same timeframe as the wedding planner in terms of hours worked.

As for taking pictures during the actual dinner, that’s just nonsense talk. In fact, I’ll tell my assistants specifically not to take pictures during this part of the wedding. You know who likes to have their picture taken when they’re hammering down a filet? No one.

Typically, we’ll keep the photo booth open during dinner and my assistant and I will split the duty so we can both eat.

In the end, it’s just a common courtesy. Often the venue will actually provide a reduced price meal for the vendors as a professional courtesy. And frankly, I can’t remember the last wedding I worked where the couple and their parents didn’t absolutely insist that we get some food.

A couple can certainly mention it before the big day and extend the option. Some photographers will graciously decline, but they will appreciate the offer.

In summation: wedding photography is hard and it’s the cool thing to do to feed the people taking pictures at your wedding. I honestly can’t believe I had to write an article to say that.